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Romano's old jokes sound fresh

Published Jun. 3, 2001|Updated Sep. 10, 2005

No matter how successful Everybody Loves Raymond is _ and it is very successful _ Ray Romano will never give up what got him the TV show in the first place: stand-up comedy.

That's why he was at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 2,100.

He's been doing stand-up for 12 years and doesn't want to give it up even though his sitcom starts its sixth season this fall.

Though many of Romano's jokes Friday night were culled from a past HBO special and numerous talk show appearances, they sounded fresh and his delivery elicited guffaws from the audience during the entire 90-minute set.

Dressed in a black suit and a dress shirt with no tie, Romano looked relaxed on stage. He easily interacted with the audience, and not just the easy prey in the front row.

"We're going to Canada to do some stand-up," he said as a few audience members clapped. "What? Canadians, really? How do you live here? You must burst into flames."

Later in the night he sought out parents of twins. Romano has 8-year-old twin sons, a daughter and a 3-year-old son.

"With identical twins you save money on photographs. This is my son, I got another one just like him."

Like the CBS TV show that bears his name, Romano's stand-up routine ranges from his overbearing mother and killing bugs to raising children and marriage.

"When you set up house with a woman, Day One is the crucial day. You make choices that don't seem important, like what side of the bed you want. It seems trivial but it's your side for life. I got screwed. I blew the call. I didn't look around. I didn't look at the TV angle. I have to watch TV with a big toe in the middle of the screen. It's horrible."

His experiences are universal.

"I like to go out to eat but I get very frustrated at breakfast time when we're in a restaurant because I need orange juice," Romano explained. "I know this is Florida and this is the juice state but still I need a normal-size glass. I tell the waitress I need a large jug of juice, supersize. I get a NyQuil cup. My wife ordered a small once. They came out with a damp rag."

And then there's his trouble with a particular food chemical.

"My wife bought potato chips with olestra in them. I didn't open the bag because I read the warning label: May cause intestinal cramping and anal leakage. Okay. Now, I have a question. How good are these chips? That better be the best chip in the world if you have to change clothes to eat it."

Near the end of his set, Romano showed a homemade video of his twins in their younger years. While he crooned Silent Night on tape, the twins are shown smacking, spitting and screaming at each other.

"You don't have to applaud. I'm just happy to be out of the house," he said.

Romano offered a short question-and-answer segment as an encore and finished the show with a reel of outtakes from Everybody Loves Raymond.

Tom Caltabiano, a writer for Everybody Loves Raymond, opened the show and joined Romano for the questions and answers.

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